January 31, 2008

A quick glance at RCP poll averages for Super Tuesday makes it clear that we need to start girding ourselves for the contemplation of a prospect truly terrifying”€”President McCain. Our friend Leon Hadar has already started starring into the abyss:

For those of us who opposed the Iraq War and W’s foreign policy”€”and for opponents of Big Government, in general”€”all of this [the coming McCain GOP nomination] is VERY BAD news.

Bush is basically a lazy person with little interest in global affairs and all his warmongering was all about winning elections, not about fighting wars. He really doesn”€™t like sitting late at night in the Situation Room “€˜managing”€™ a global crisis. He prefers to go to bed (to sleep).

But McCain LOVES all of that. Another Cuban-Missile-Crisis-like atmosphere in the White House where he could play the War President. It’s a form of Viagra for this mummy-like creature. It could keep him alive and kicking for eight more years during which the Warfare State will run amok, including the … reinstatement of the draft. Sometime in 2010 we”€™ll have no choice but to admit that we are really starting to miss W.”€

We should be wary of any dailykos-like rants about “€œthe Republicans are going to reinstate the draft and install fascism ahhh!”€ but I generally think that Hadar is raising a real possibility. As Justin pointed out last night in his live-blogging, McCain’s war-hero identity often leads him to conflate politics with military duty. His “€œI led for patriotism, not for profit”€ was, of course, a thinly disguised shot at Romney, Mr. multi-millionaire. But what is McCain actually saying here? I don”€™t know how useful McCain’s experience leading a military brigade would be in the White House”€”unless one imagines the president’s central role as dealing with soldiers in a series of war crises. (Moreover, McCain statement begs the question, would Romney be more qualified for the presidency if he had notprofited during his time in the non-military sector? Is McCain bringing into doubt the leadership of every person who’s been so slimy as to make money from a business transaction?) 

Anyway, the point is that while Bush wanted us to fight terror by going shopping, McCain might try to revive that old 9/11 feeling through enlistment.    

Hadar goes on:

“€œFinally, I do hope that Dr. Paul runs as a third-party candidate and makes it more likely that the Republicans lose, providing them with an opportunity to reinvent themselves.”€

From what I”€™m hearing, a third-party bid is not very likely”€”Paul doesn”€™t have particularly good memories from his Libertarian candidacy in “€™88, and judging from his recent debate performances, his heart no longer seems to be in his current run.  

This aside, Hadar thinks a Ron Paul third party would be positive only in that it would derail a likely McCain victory in November. In Hadar’s mind, the senator will win with Bush’s “€™04 strategy: using “€œforeign policy/national security”€” especially against the backdrop of a possible confrontation with Iran … and the alleged “€˜success in Iraq”€”to bash Hillary and the Democrats as “€˜appeasers”€™ etc.”€

While I think McCain would probably run like this, I”€™m not so sure it would work. I generally think the public is tired of the 9/11 paradigm. Whatever you want to say about Huckabee & Obama (I don”€™t have much of anything good to say about either), they”€™ve beaten the establishment’s erstwhile “€œinevitable”€ candidates by running outside the 9/11 box”€”no Kerry-esque “€œreporting for duty”€ here. Moreover, Romney has consistently finished second on “€œchange”€ + “€œWashington is broken”€ rhetoric. The fact is that a McCainian GOP would probably lose hard in November with or without a Paul third-party run. Nevertheless, whether the establishment and base is really willing to “€œreinvent themselves”€ afterwards is doubtful”€”as what? led by whom?

Still, there’s a certain bleak fatalistic fun in contemplating the composition of a McCain admin:  

As Hadar see’s it:

Vice-President: Rice or Huckabee or Lieberman.
Pentagon: Giuliani or Rice or Lieberman.
State: Robert Kagan.
AG: Giuliani.
CIA: Giuliani or Gary Schmitt.
Colonial Office: Niall Ferguson.
Treasury: Robert Zoellick.
Representative in Israel: Bibi Netanyahu

I”€™ll nominate Denis Miller as Minister of Culture and John Podhoretz as Poetic-Reference-to-1938 Laureate. 


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